Secret Project milestone

That secret project I’ve been talking about recently – I completed a major milestone today. The hardest and most time-consuming part has now been completed, as of this morning. There’s a bit of tidying up around the edges required before it’s ready to unveil, but that’s all very minor and mechanical compared to the major creative parts that are now finished. Yes, it’s a creative project, and yes, you will see it soon. Just not quite yet.

The other thing I achieved today was finishing watching season 4 of Stranger Things. I’ve loved this show since the first episode of season 1. I thought season 3 was a bit weaker than the first two, but this new season was amazing, and my wife and I both were spellbound from start to finish.

The other main thing today was I got my fourth COVID shot. The Australian Government approved them for people aged over 30 on Monday, and I made sure to get in early before demand ramps up and makes bookings difficult to get. I had it about 5 hours ago now, and still feeling fine, so hopefully no fevery side effects like I had for one of my previous shots (I forget exactly which it was, but it was just one of them).

New content today:

Stranger Things, on TV and in comics

I’m currently partway through watching the new season 4 of Stranger Things on Netflix. And really enjoying it – a lot more than I liked the previous season. I think I need to go back to the start of season 1 and rewatch everything again, and maybe season 3 will feel better this time.

Besides watching the show on TV, today I also got out my Stranger Things Lego characters and photographed a batch of new comics. This is 4 weeks’ worth of new strips, to cover this week, the next two weeks when I’m overseas in Europe, and a week after getting back. Hopefully that will give me time to make a new batch to follow directly on.

So here’s a question I was wondering about today: Here in Australia we use the word “overseas” to refer to any international travel. Do people in countries with land borders use the word “overseas” the same way? Do Americans use “overseas” to describe travel to Canada? Or Brazil? Or only for travel to Europe/Asia/Africa/Australia?

New content today:

Warm winter day

The temperature reached 25.4°C here in Sydney today, up to 26.6°C in inland suburbs. Which is lovely and warm for winter. It almost feels like winter is over and spring is on the way, but I suspect there’ll be some more cold weather in the next week or two still.

I went out for a walk at lunchtime with my wife. I’d dropped Scully at doggie daycare for some fun time with other dogs. We walked down to the harbour swimming baths at the end of a nearby headland, which is a substantial walk, and ate up her full lunch hour by the time we returned home. It was beautiful being out in the warm sunshine, and I didn’t take a jumper or jacket, just wearing short sleeves for the first time in a couple of months.

COVID news: 177 new cases in NSW, topping yesterday’s 172. I also received email from the market organisers of the Lindfield Market where I’m selling my photography – they’ve cancelled both the August and September markets, and are currently hopeful that October can go ahead. I’m not so sure if it will, but we’ll wait and see.

Speaking of extended lockdown and cancelling stuff… my wife and I have a significant round number wedding anniversary coming up soon. We’d planned a couple of years ago to schedule a trip to Europe around it, but obviously thats not happening. A while back I tried to find a nice restaurant so we could at least have a night out and enjoy some fine food. But now I’m thinking we’re most probably going to have to spend this anniversary sitting at home.

In good news, I ran my first ethics class today on the peer pressure topic. It went really well – I could see the wheels spinning in the kids’ minds as they thought about some of the questions I was asking them. And after the class one of the parents left my first written review on Outschool. I’ve had some 5 star reviews, but nobody has written a text review until now. And it was really good, saying how much her daughter loved the class and how they discussed the topics together afterwards, and she said she highly recommended it. So that was good!

Last night I started watching a new movie on Netflix: Blood Red Sky. (I only watched an hour of it before bedtime – I’ll try and finish it tonight.) It’s a horror movie, and it has an interesting premise, that I was getting into.

New content today:

Vaccination and Doctor Who

One of the family got vaccinated today. It was time for Scully’s annual vet checkup and booster shots. Her appointment was at 2pm.

The daily COVID press conference by the NSW Premier was at 11am, so we watched that – 111 new cases in the last day, which is not good. They also announced a new set of lockdown restrictions. People living in the three worst affected local government areas (i.e. administrative areas covering roughly 20% of Sydney) are now forbidden from leaving home to go to work, unless they work in health care or emergency services. People with any other job cannot travel to work at all. My brother lives in the affected area, but I’m in a different part of the city.

They also announced that non-essential retail shops are not allowed to open, and released a list of what is considered essential: food, health, maternity, baby, and pet supplies; hardware, agriculture, and office supplies; banks, finance, and post offices. Every other retailer must close to shoppers – though they can offer online ordering. Additionally, all construction projects other than urgent repairs have been shut down, so construction workers will no longer be travelling to work.

These new restrictions last until 30 July, but may be extended if necessary. This is now, finally, slightly more restrictive than the lockdown we had at Christmas last year. Whether it’s enough to halt the spread of the Delta variant, we’ll have to wait another two weeks to see.

After the press conference, we went for a walk with Scully. The weather was sunny, but very cold and windy. The maximum temperature today only reached 14.6°C, and we had wind sustained around 40 km/h with gusts over 70 km/h, so it felt bone-chillingly cold. When we went out I thought we were doing a quick walk and coming back home, so I could have lunch before my wife took Scully to the vet. But it turned out she intended to stay out the whole time, and go to the vet on the way home! We ended up doing a huge walk – I think Strava tracked it something over 8 kilometres.

I left them near the vet just before 2pm and went home and had lunch. The vet is only doing contactless consultations. A nurse comes to the door and takes your dog, and you have to wait outside. It was like this last year too for her previous annual checkup. But the report was good, Scully is in perfect health, and has had her booster vaccinations.

Tonight my wife and I (finally) watched the last episode of the new Series 12 of Doctor Who. This is the most recent series they made, aired in 2020, but we missed it on TV, and have only now caught up on DVD. It took a little to get into Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, but I really like her now.

New content today:

Standard sort of Sunday

I did the same walk as yesterday with Scully, but today my wife came along as well. She didn’t recall ever having done the new route which Scully chose yesterday, and Scully picked it again today, so that was good. I stopped at the bakery along the way for a piece of chocolate babka, which is really delicious, and a good Sunday morning tea treat.

At the Oyster Cove marina, I spotted this white-faced heron, which I managed ot get close enough to to take a half-decent photo with my phone.

White-faced heron

At home, I worked on more Darths & Droids strips, getting the buffer back into something resembling good health after running it down to the bone recently.

During the afternoon I got into a chat with some friends on Discord, and we talked about TV shows we’ve been watching. It was interesting because every time anyone said anything about a show they’d watched, they put it in spoiler tags to avoid spoiling anyone else who was interested in watching but wasn’t up to that bit yet. I’ve been watching The Irregulars, and am up to episode 6 of 8. Two of my friends are also watching it and are up to different episodes. So although we’re all watching the same TV show, we can’t really have a proper conversation about it without being super careful.

Remember back in the days before streaming, when TV shows aired on television at a specific time, and everyone you knew would be watching the same episode at the same time? So you could all talk about the latest episode and speculate what would happen next week? I miss those days. I watched The X-Files in its initial run, and one of my friends and I would get together every week and compare our impressions of the last episode and theorise wildly about what was going to happen in the next mythology episode. This is a joy that young people these days will never know.

New content today:

Human vision slides

It was another day of working on my diagrams and slides for the Human Vision course I’ll be teaching on Monday. Writing up the actual content of the course made me realise more diagrams I needed, so I had to draw some of those. And I needed photo examples for a few things too, so dug through my own photos for suitable scenes to illustrate some of the concepts.

That was pretty much my day. Last night I watched The End of Evangelion, the movie made as a wrap-up of the 26-episode series of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I completed watching last week. If you know the show, then you probably have a good idea of my initial reactions. If not, I’m not going to spoil it for you. It was definitely interesting, and I’m glad I finally got around to seeing this series.

New content today:

Getting things done

This morning I thought I wanted to get another 5k run done, because I’ll have limited opportunity for the rest of the week, due to having an ISO Photography Standards meeting. It’s an online meeting, from 8:00 to 11:30 every morning in my time zone. I don’t really have time to do it before, if you include having breakfast and cooling down and probably having a shower to be comfortable for the meeting, and the afternoon is not a great option in our summer, and evenings are usually busy with other stuff. (I don’t think I’ve ever done a run in the evening.)

But this morning I also had to get some blood drawn for a cholesterol test, after fasting, so I couldn’t have breakfast before. So I wanted to get that done as soon as the pathology lab opened, and then go home and have breakfast… and by the time I was ready to go run it was approaching 10 o’clock. But fortunately it’s very cool today, with overcast skies keeping the sun out. So I got ready and went for the run.

I wanted to see if I could break 30 minutes for the 5k on the street route I’ve worked out, which is about as flat as I can find in this area. But it’s still a bit hilly, with an elevation gain of 87 metres over the 5k. I started hard, but when I hit the uphill sections about halfway through I thought maybe I’d gone too hard and would run out of steam before finishing. But I pushed through and managed to complete the 5k in 28:39! Much better than I’d hoped for.

Energised, I got stuck into writing a lesson outline for my planned initial class on Outschool: Human Vision and Colour Perception. I wrote out a list of bullet points of topics to cover. Then I made a list of diagrams and illustrations that I want to have. Many of these I could find on the Internet – however Outschool insists (justifiably) that you have legal rights to use any images you present in your classes. Which rules out most of what you can find – doubly so for scientific diagrams. There are a many good diagrams, but all covered by copyright, or which need to be purchased, or which are at least Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike, which is no good because I can’t easily include correct attribution in class materials and don’t necessarily want to release my material under the same licence.

So I’ve decided I need to draw the diagrams myself. So I have a list of diagrams, and now I need to sit down and draw them all. I did manage to get one done today, after fiddling with a couple of different drawing apps on my iPad. I’ll get stuck into the rest tomorrow.

I also had a combination of thoughts prompted by two things:

1. Earlier today I saw a question on AskReddit:

To those who think to themselves, “I should do this today,” and then end up doing it: is it possible to learn this power?

With several answers along the lines of: “When you think you should do something, just get up and do it, don’t put it off.”

2. I was thinking I really need to watch more of Neon Genesis Evangelion to get through all of the series, but how the heck am I going to find the time to do that…?

This made me realise that watching TV is one of the things that I procrastinate and never manage to get done. I always have too many other things that I want to do, so much so that I often end up thinking “I should watch some TV” and then never get around to it.

So maybe in order for me to achieve this goal, I need to stop putting off watching TV and just sit on my arse and DO IT.

New content today:

Pumpkin seed sourdough

Today was another baking day. This time i tried adding some pumpkin seeds on top of the sourdough loaf.

Pumpkin seed sourdough

I used all of the seeds I had handy without opening a new packet. I think it needs a bit more than that to be really effective, and I probably need to roll the shaped loaf in the seeds to embed them and get them to stick a bit better. Live and learn! But it tastes good.

Apart from that and taking Scully on a long walk with my wife, it was a pretty easy day. We also watched some more Doctor Who, working our way through the new series 11, Jodie Whittaker’s first episodes. I must say I was very surprised when I first heard Whittaker’s accent – I had not expected that at all. The stories so far don’t seem quite as good as previous seasons, but hopefully they’ll hit their stride soon.

I’m also getting through Neon Genesis Evangelion. I’m a bit more than halfway through the episodes, and things are starting to get… very interesting.

New content today:

Lots of vegetables

Because of my scheduled golf lesson tomorrow morning, I moved grocery shopping to from Friday to Thursday and did it this morning. I bought a bunch of different vegetables for the week ahead: cauliflower, zucchini, potatoes, red capsicum (or pepper to non-Australians), green beans, and mushrooms. That should be enough to mix and match for a week’s meals, when combined with pasta, rice, lentils, and other stuff from the pantry.

When I got home I discovered we still have broccoli that I bought last week, as well as the Brussels sprouts that I knew we had. I cooked the sprouts for dinner tonight with garlic and chilli and miso paste, and we had that as a side to some hemp burger patties. Basically, we’re loaded with vegetables.

Last night I started watching a new movie on Netflix, #Alive. I enjoyed Train to Busan, so another Korean zombie movie seemed like a good idea. I stopped halfway through to go to bed at a reasonable time and will watch the rest in a day or so. I’m enjoying it so far. It even seems like it could be set in same time/events as Train to Busan. I wonder if they’re meant to be part of the same continuity.

I’ve also just watched the second last episode of The Queen’s Gambit, which has been enthralling. I’m looking forward to the final episode.

In other news, the Australian Museum had a ceremony today before reopening on Saturday after a long closure for extensive renovations. This has always been my favourite museum in Sydney, and I’m very excited to go visit soon and see what it looks like now. I’ll have to make a trip some day before school ends for the year and it gets overrun with students every day.

New content today:

Running the middle distance

I tried to do a 5k run this morning, but I was so uninspired halfway through that I stopped after 3k instead. It didn’t help that the weather is so humid now, although it was a lot cooler than yesterday.

Apart from that, mostly I worked on Darths & Droids writing today. In between cooking a few things – for lunch, dinner, and in mid-afternoon putting together something for dessert to chill in the fridge. Just a simple concoction of wheatmeal biscuits and mascarpone, to use up some leftover mascarpone from the other day. I had it with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Oh, I’ve been watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix with my wife. We’re really enjoying it. A friend of mine recommended it to me, and he was spot on.

New content today: